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Tyrant - How to Live - Review

3 Sept 2016

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So, Tyrant is really starting to annoy me. And, up until last week, things were going so well. Structurally, this season has been quite good. It has been well-paced, plot threads are converging at the right time and everything is building towards a climax next week. So where has this season gone wrong?

The answer to this lies in Barry's actions over the last couple of episodes. You see, the idea behind the season to have Barry gradually become the type of ruler he once fought so hard to oppose is a good one, and it was going along relatively well up until last week. Before then, his actions made a bit of sense, but his development over the last couple of episodes has been rushed.

This episode is, in many ways, centered around Barry's inner turmoil. Should he abandon his principles for the sake of revenge, or should he let Emma's death go in order to stay true to his core values? This is an interesting conflict, but the execution has let it down. You see, the problem with Barry going down this dark path of revenge wasn't set up well by the show. Yes, you can point to his hallucinations of Emma a couple of episodes ago, but a couple of hallucinations simply weren't enough. The writers completely failed to convince us that Barry would do these things, and the season is falling apart because of it.

So when he refuses to listen to reason from the likes of Fauzi, or Daliyah, or even Sammy, it's frustrating. And when he has Daliyah arrested and does nothing when she announces that she will go on a hunger strike, it's not convincing. It also doesn't help that Molly, in this episode, becomes almost cartoonish in her villainy. I think the show wants us to feel the tragedy of the situation, but instead whenever Molly opens her mouth I'm caught between shouting in frustration or laughing at the ridiculousness.

Outside of the episode's central drama, Annet Mahendru - who has been underused all season long - finally got something relatively interesting to do, as Nafisa found herself caught between her husband Sheik Al-Qadi and her Caliphate brother. She is convinced by the latter to kill the former, though she changes her mind at the last moment, thereby helping to bring her and her husband closer together. Mahendru did some good work in this episode, but this subplot would've been far more effective if Nafisa had been given more screentime earlier this season.

This episode did have some bright spots, most notably General Cogswell. Somehow, the show and Chris Noth have sold me on this character, as well as the romance with Leila, so that his decision at the end of the episode to go against the orders of his government to save her life and postpone civil war in the process felt earned.

But while there's certainly some good material on the periphery, there's no denying that this season's core has become rotten, built on an unstable foundation of flimsy characterization. I suppose the series' title might suggest otherwise, but I do hope Barry comes to his senses in the next episode, so that the show can recover in a potential fourth season.

About the Author - candon_sean
Sean is a student living in Ireland. He has a keen interest in dramatic television (as well as some comedies). Some of his favourite shows right now include The Leftovers, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Black Sails and Mr Robot. Some of his favourite shows of all time include The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Person of Interest, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Lost. He is also an "A Song of Ice and Fire" obsessive. You can visit his blog at
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